November 29, 2016
The Blas F. Ople Policy Center, a non-profit organization that specializes in labor migration concerns, commended the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) for its plan to scrap the collection of airport terminal fees from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) by March 2017.
“The heartless policy of then MIAA General Manager Angel Honrado shall soon be laid to rest, hopefully never to be resurrected. The law is very clear: our OFWs are exempted from paying the PHP550 airport terminal fee,” Susan Ople, head of the policy center said.
The former labor undersecretary said that MIAA’s target date of March 2017 is understandable because there are systems changes involved that would require the cooperation of the airlines.
“We were never against the integration of terminal fees in air tickets for other travelers. However, the law grants an exemption to our OFWs and it has always been our position that this specific benefit, enjoyed for more than 9 years by our modern-day heroes, should not be removed by MIAA through a mere Memorandum Circular,” Ople stressed.
She added that millions of OFWs have not been able to redeem their refund due to lack of material time, low level of awareness, and at times, because of the long lines at the refund counter.
“Thank you, MIAA General Manager Ed Monreal, for this early Christmas gift to our OFWs. Although the actual implementation would be in March of 2017, we appreciate the new management’s desire to follow the law and honor the sacrifices of our OFWs,” Ople said.
The Ople Center was one among several civil society groups and individuals who filed a case against the DOTC and MIAA for implementing Memorandum Circular No. 8, which formalized the integration of terminal fees in all air tickets with OFWs getting a refund after presentation of certain documents. The case has yet to be decided by an RTC Pasay court.